In a perfect world, your romantic relationship and your friendships would exist side by side with no friction. Your friends would love your partner, your partner would love your friends — basically, it would be one big love fest. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Is it OK if your partner doesn't like your friends? There's no denying that it can pose some potential challenges both to your relationship as well as your social life (not to mention some awkwardness). After all, both your boo and your #squad are important to you, and you probably don't want to compromise either. But here’s the thing: You don’t have to. In fact, according to relationship and etiquette expert April Masini, it might not be such a bad thing if your partner isn’t a huge fan of your friends.
Consider this: Particularly if you’ve known your current friends for a long time, you may not notice some of their problematic behavior. For example, maybe they flake out on you a lot, or they fail to show up when you need them and it really matters. Masini says that your partner may notice something in your friends that you’ve somehow overlooked — and this could be beneficial if your friends have been mistreating you in any way.
“Sometimes it takes an outsider to put a second set of eyes on a situation that you’re too close to see clearly, and help you see what’s really going on,” she adds. “If you have a partner who has your best interests in mind, and your friends are passive aggressive, abusive, or not kind, your partner not liking these friends may be a way for you to reassess them yourself.”
It’s also pretty common for sheer jealousy to be the culprit of this problem. Being in a relationship can definitely have an impact on your friendships — you probably have less time to hang, for example, and that may bother your besties. If you suspect you’re dealing with this scenario, Masini says that this presents an opportunity for you to dig into that jealousy.
“Your friends may be jealous of your new partner, and your new partner is picking up on their behavior resulting from jealousy,” she explains. “If your friends see your partner as a threat to your relationship/s with them, it’s sometimes because they feel like you’re going to leave them behind. Whether or not this is true, it doesn’t mean you have bad friends or a bad partner. But it does mean you have some work and transitioning to do with your relationships.”
It may sound obvious, but if bae doesn’t like your friends — and your friends happen to be your exes — that could be because they fear your former flames trying to get back together with you.
“They often have motives different from a true friend,” says Masini. “And those motives may be romantic or sexual or both.”
Those fears may or may not be valid, depending on your exes’ behavior, but it’s important to make sure your boo feels secure and respected in your relationship. So, if it’s bothering them that you hang out with your exes, take some time to delve into what they’re worried about. Do they have lingering trust issues from previous relationships or anything you’ve done in the past? Is there anything particular about your exes’ behavior that irks them or fuels their fears? That’s not to say you necessarily have to cut off your friendships with those exes, but you may need to adjust them if your current significant other feels uncomfortable about the nature or extent of those friendships, and they have valid reasons why.
If your partner doesn’t like your friends because they very clearly don’t approve of your boo, then Masini says it’s time to consider what your friends see in them. Could there be any toxic behavior that you've been turning a blind eye to?
“They may be a control freak and your friends are looking out for your best interests,” she explains. “If your friends don’t like your partner, it may be for good reasons that you are overlooking because you are caught in a love storm. Lots of people get caught up in ‘chemistry’ and the whirlwind of romance and they don’t see what their friends do.”
No one said accepting the fact that your significant other doesn’t like your squad would be easy, however. If it’s troubling you, Masini has several suggestions. For example, if the tension between them is palpable any time they’re in the same room, you could ask your partner or your friends to try and make peace.
“Sometimes simply acknowledging and articulating what you see, and what bothers you, your partner and to your friends (separately), gives them a chance to make changes,” she explains. “If they know that their behavior is stressing you out, they can ease up and cut your partner a break. But you have to speak up because you should not assume they understand how you feel and what you want from them.”
You could also alter the amount of time you spend with friends and your partner at the same time. For example, if you typically all get together once a week, Masini advises changing that to a once-a-month gathering. Of course, you don’t want to cut your friends off, but you may want to spend more time with them on your own and leave your boo out of it if they’re not a huge fan of that crew.
And of course, you could also make new friends. To be clear, you should never have to do this out of feeling pressured by your partner — it should be a decision you make because you believe it’s best for you. This might seem like an extreme measure to take, but if you honestly feel like the reasons why your SO doesn’t like your friends are valid, and you, too, are starting to think you may have outgrown them, then why not change up your circle?
“It’s very normal for someone new to come into your life and expand your interests,” says Masini. “Sometimes, that happens with a partner and your friends. You may be more comfortable with your partner's friends than you are with yours, and that’s OK. Life is supposed to be fluid, not static. When you introduce someone new into your life, not everything that was stays the same.”
Sure, it would be pretty clutch if you could plan fun group outings and getaways with your friends and your significant other. But instead of seeing this situation as a total bummer, consider all of the important issues it brings up. The fact that bae doesn’t like your friends may shed light on some jealousy or problematic behavior on the part of your friends, or on some fears on the part of your partner. Once you take the time to explore why they don’t like your friends, you can decide how to make any necessary adjustments to ensure that your relationship — and your friendships — thrive.